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May 12, 2021 - 2:10pm

The Genesee County Planning Board is in for a busy night on Thursday with an agenda featuring 17 referrals, including a proposal to build an outdoor dining space at the Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford and another to develop a 346-site campground and recreation area on Perry Road in Pavilion.

The meeting will take place at 7 o’clock via Zoom videoconferencing.

Owners Timothy Adams and Steven Foster have submitted a site plan and request for a special use permit to place an outdoor dining pavilion at the rear of the Red Osier property on Route 5.

Plans call for the covered shelter to be set on a 30- by 40-foot concrete pad to the south of the restaurant. The owners also are looking to add a portable 12- by 24-foot manufactured shed for storage and aesthetics, adding that the dumpster will be relocated away from that area and also will be on a concrete pad and fenced in.

Preliminary word is that planning department staff suggests approval of the referral, stating that the proposed pavilion and improvements should pose no significant countywide or intercommunity impact.

Jesse Coots, of Le Roy, submitted a site plan and is asking for a special use permit to create and operate the campground at 10156 Perry Road. The plan calls for building it in two phases, using 20 to 30 acres of a 94-acre parcel that is zoned Agricultural-Residential. Currently, the land consists of woodland and farm fields.

Approval with modification is recommended by planning staff, who are asking the board to require the applicant to provide proof that there will be no adverse impact upon wetlands and to obtain a stormwater permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Other referrals include the following:

  • Rezoning of 211 E. Main St., Batavia, from P-2 (Planned Development) to C-3 (Commercial) for consistency purposes prior to demolition of Cary Hall and eventual construction of the Healthy Living Campus joint venture between the GLOW YMCA and United Memorial Medical Center.

Currently, Cary Hall is not being used. It formerly housed medical offices and, before that, was the home of the McAuley School of Practical Nursing.

County planning staff has determined that the zoning change is not inconsistent with the City of Batavia’s comprehensive plan adopted in 2017 and should go forward.

  • A site plan review of a new liquor store at 9 E. Main St., Corfu, to be owned and operated by Brittany Schafer.

In documents submitted by Schafer, she plans to call the business Brittany’s Booze Barn and be open from the hours of 1 to 8 p.m., hopefully by July 4. It is in a Commercial-Residential District with existing residential space upstairs.

Planning staff recommends approval.

  • A special use permit to develop a 5-megawatt community solar project at 7209 Oak Orchard Road, Elba, just south of Route 262, covering half of a 55-acre parcel owned by CY Properties LLC.

Documents state that NY CDG Genesee I LLC, of Acton, Ontario, Canada, is planning to install about 16,400 solar panels on 200 free standing tracking solar table modules, as well as new electrical equipment, accessories, concrete pads for equipment and new gravel access drive.

The land is zoned Business and Agricultural-Residential.

A letter from LaBella Associates, representing the solar group, indicates that a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement through the Genesee County Economic Development Center will be requested.

County planning staff has determined that since the project will be on prime farm land, the applicant should relocate the portion of the driveway and equipment pad currently proposed through the middle of the field to the edge of the field or amend the decommissioning plan to minimize the impact on the soil.

  • A special use permit request by Tanya Peal to operate a one-chair hair salon in her home at 1 Farnsworth Ave., Oakfield, in a Residential District. Her paperwork indicates that customers will be received on an appointment-only basis and she has room to park four vehicles.

The recommendation of county staff is for approval.

  • An area variance for Rochester Regional Health to modify the size of parking spaces from 10- by 20-feet to 9- by 18-feet at the site of its proposed 140,000-square-foot medical office building at 8103 Oak Orchard Road, Batavia – north of the Thruway exit. The change would increase the number of parking spots from 360 to 432.

Consultants for RRH state that the modification will allow the required amount of onsite parking to be provided, while satisfying the town’s request for an access agreement along the northern boundary of the site. The access requirement reduces slightly the space for parking, resulting in the need to go to a 9 by 18 parking spot configuration.

Planning staff has determined that the proposed variance should pose no significant countywide or intercommunity impact.

August 31, 2020 - 8:06am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, GCEDC, CY Properties, Excelsior Energy Center.

yunker.jpgWhile quick to point out that his business has signed on to lease farmland to the Excelsior Solar Project, former Genesee County Legislator Craig Yunker said that all Town of Byron residents in the municipality stand to reap financial rewards.

“My views are somewhat conflicted because of our involvement in it, but it is a good project. It is renewable energy,” Yunker said. “And it is a win for the taxpayers in Byron, the county and the Byron-Bergen school district. If you look at the economy in Byron, it is a strong ag economy but there’s no sales tax generated by the town, for all intents and purposes. This is a revenue source.”

Yunker is a managing partner of the Elba-based CY Farms, a 6,000-plus-acre crop farm, and owns Batavia Turf, a turf farming operation in Batavia, and CY Heifers, a 4,000-head replacement heifer business that raises calves for local dairy farms.

Well-known in the community, Yunker, since 2014, has sat on the board of directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center – the agency that is negotiating with Excelsior Energy Center on a payment in lieu of taxes agreement that would benefit the three taxing jurisdictions: Town of Byron, Byron-Bergen Central School District and Genesee County.

“Everybody from the town is going to benefit from the PILOT revenue – and it will be a lot of money,” Yunker said, adding that he has recused himself from voting on any and all matters pertaining to the solar project. “Negotiations are going on now.”

Yunker explained that Excelsior Energy would be tax exempt but under the PILOT they would make payments in lieu of taxes.

“If they were assessed full value on a commercial basis – once it changes from farmland to commercial the assessment will go up – the project wouldn’t come here. It wouldn’t be economically feasible for NextEra (Energy Resources, parent company of Excelsior Energy),” he said. “But yet the taxing jurisdictions want them to come because there will be a lot more tax revenue than it would be if it was farmland.”

Exactly how much revenue is unknown at this point, but judging from the PILOTs approved earlier this year for Borrego Solar’s five community solar projects totaling just 22 megawatts in the Elba, Pembroke and Akron school districts, it likely will be in the several millions.

The GCEDC authorized $1,141,366 in revenues over 15 years for three Town of Batavia projects, broken down as follows:

  • $390,041 in revenues to Genesee County;
  • $433,033 in revenues to the Pembroke Central School District;
  • $318,292 in revenues to the Elba Central School District.

And the GCEDC authorized $951,138 in revenues over 15 years for two Town of Pembroke projects, broken down as follows:

  • $364,711 in revenues to Genesee County;
  • $586,427 in revenues to the Akron Central School District.

Yunker said Byron has little industry other than Oxbo International, which builds sales tax-exempt farm machinery, and that all municipalities will be affected should Gov. Andrew Cuomo follow through on state aid cuts of 20 percent or more.

“If you had a bunch of businesses ready to come here and build factories and would pay full tax revenues, that would be better. But we don’t have those lining up to come here,” he said. “It’s about creating a revenue source so that the town can provide services to its residents and the school district can provide services to the residents without an unbearable property tax levy.”

As far as the landowners are concerned, Yunker acknowledged a “ballpark figure” of $1,000 to $1,500 an acre is being offered by Excelsior Energy. Payments would arrive on an annual basis. He said that CY Properties has contracted to lease land on Gillette Road and Ivison Road, but the exact number of acres has yet to be determined.

He also said he understood residents’ opposition to the project.

“Their arguments are that it is taking agricultural land out of production and it is going to change the visual nature of the town,” he said. “It won’t ruin the agricultural land. It will take it out of production for a period of time – 25 years – but it doesn’t ruin it.”

Yunker said if and when the solar company leaves, they would remove everything and the land would become farmland again.

“It’s not like you build a housing development and put in streets or build a factory; that’s gone forever,” he said. “This is a relatively temporary use of farmland and it doesn’t destroy the farmland.”

He addressed another concern of those against it -- the visual aspect of driving through farmland.

“People like the vista of farms and they prefer that vista over the solar panels. But I would point out that, currently, they don’t pay anything for the vista,” he offered. “If we were to let it grow to shrubs and weeds, not mow it, it wouldn’t be so pleasant to look at. But nobody is paying the farmers for that. There’s an external benefit that agriculture gives to the community at no charge.”

Ultimately, Yunker said, the landowners have a right to use their land “as long as they follow the rules.”

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